Thoughts on Light and Dark

“What we are telling you now is the very message we heard from Him: God is purelight, undimmed by darkness of any kind. If we say we have an intimate connection with the Father but we continue stumbling around in darkness, then we are lying because we do not live according to truth. If we walk step by step in the light, where the Father is, then we are ultimately connected to each other through the sacrifice of Jesus His Son. His blood purifies us from all our sins” (1 John 1:5-7, The Voice).

It struck me tonight how staggering the word picture of light and dark really is. I mean, you really can’t get more polar opposites than light and dark. It is literally a night and day difference.

John speaks of believers who formerly walked in darkness  who now walk in light.

That’s not about being a little nicer and a little more patient. That’s not about being a better and more improved version of yourself.

That’s about as radical a change as you can have. That’s about the difference between being dead and being alive.

It makes me wonder why there is such little difference between the lives of some believers and the lives of the unbelievers around them. If I’m truly walking in God’s light, how can I continue to act out of dark motives and desires?

I’m not suggesting that those who follow Jesus are supposed to be perfect. I am saying that they should look and sound different.

My favorite pastor once said that the problem that an unbelieving world has with Christians is not that they are too different from everybody else; it’s that they are too much the same. They speak a good game, but they don’t live the way they speak.

I can say that because I live that way too often. Too many of us are too good at being incognito Christians.

May God continue to lead us into a place where we strive to walk in the light and reflect the radical difference that comes from what only God can do.

 

Lessons from Lent

lent2011

This may be old hat for you or not. I’m not sure. But stop me if you’ve heard some or all of this before: last year, I gave up only Facebook for Lent. This year, I decided to give up all social media. It turned out to be one of my best decisions ever. Although if I’m honest, I was being obedient to what I felt God was calling me to do. It really wasn’t my decision at all.

I don’t regret for one single second going without social media for those 46 days. I got in more prayer time, I read my Bible more, I read more books in general. Plus, I had a greater sense of peace from not being tied down to Facebook or Twitter.

I think sometimes in order to appreciate something more, you need to step away from it for a while. That was the case for me. I did sometimes feel out of the loop after missing all the news from Facebook. But I can always catch up on that.

Lent is more than just giving up. It’s replacing it with something better. It’s no good to give up social media if you’re going to fill up the time with television. Hopefully, you spend your extra free time in learning to hear God’s voice and hear His heartbeat and feel His love for you. Obviously, the best way to do that is through His Word.

I don’t claim that I was anywhere near perfect in that regard. I wasted too much of the time I had away from social media. But I’m not beating myself up about it. Instead I choose to focus on the fact that I was more discipline in regard to prayer and Bible reading than I’ve been in a long time.

I hope to be able to participate in Lent again next year. I hope that I can be free enough to walk away from anything that enslaves me and takes my eyes off Jesus, whether that be social media or TV or anything else.

Like I said before, it’s really not about giving up stuff or sacrificing what you love. More than that, it’s about prioritizing your life and making sure that Jesus and His Kingdom really and truly are first. Then everything else will line up and fall into proper place.

Easter Season Liturgy Part IV

ko1

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

I saw the sunset today. It was beautiful, but not extraordinarily so. Then I thought of something.

Every sunset is a kind of picture of Easter and death, burial, and resurrection. Even the blood-red color of the sky seemed significant.

Two days from now, we celebrate Easter, or if you prefer, Resurrection Sunday. Whatever you call it, the reason is the same. Jesus, the same who was crucified and buried, walked out of that tomb, holding the keys to death and hell, and forever changing history as we know it.

I participated in a Good Friday service featuring seven stations of the cross with artwork and Scripture, along with prayer prompts. I blogged about it last year and you can read it here if you want:

https://oneragamuffin.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/the-seven-stations-of-the-cross/

Again, I was struck by the incredible price Jesus paid for me. As the Bible says, very rarely will anyone be willing to die for a friend, much less a stranger. Yet while I was yet a sinner and an enemy to God, Jesus died for me. If I really think about it, I am overwhelmed.

Here’s a closing thought from one of my favorites, C. S. Lewis:

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say ‘seeing’? there are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a ‘host’ who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and ‘take advantage of’ Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”

 

 

Fitness Progress Report #1

image

I’m starting the second week of my new fitness plan. And I get that I need to come up with a better name than “my new fitness plan.”

So far, my goals are to exercise at least six times a week, eat healthier, i.e. way less sweets, carbs, red meats, etc., and to take those extra small steps that add up to overall better fitness.

By that, I mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Intentionally parking farther away from the store to get those extra few steps in. Drinking water instead of tea for meals. Only eating out once a week.

So far, so good. I don’t say perfect. I could have done better. But this is not about beating myself up if I don’t get it exactly right every time. It’s about doing it better than the last time. After all, every little bit helps and every step counts.

It’s good to have friends who will encourage you and hold you accountable. I have one of those. It’s helped me during those times when I was feeling unmotivated or just plain lazy.

I’m not expecting to drop 50 pounds in one week. For one, that’s unrealistic. Also, if I lost 50 pounds, I’d look funny.

This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle change.

There will be more of these progress reports to come.

Just remember that God loves you no matter what body type you are or whether you love or hate your own body. God loves you regardless of whether you fit the traditional mold of what’s considered beautiful or not. He made you just like you are and think’s you’re to die for.

I just wanted to throw that out there.

A Good Night for a Homecoming

image

It was a good night for a high school homecoming game. It seemed more than a bit surreal to be at Beech High School on their homecoming night, but you couldn’t ask for better weather.

The home team won. Barely. The game was probably more suspenseful than it needed to be, as the Beech Buccaneers kept letting Gallatin back in the game. All that matters in the end is that the home team won and lots of good memories got made.

image

I was purely a spectator. I didn’t know anyone at the game save for the handful of folks from my community group. I was feeling a bit weary and disconnected, so I did my fair share of wandering alone through the masses there to celebrate one of the truly great and time-honored rites of passage still left sacred in our society.

I was a bit saddened by the regret of one blog I wrote about a friend some months ago that caused a strain on our friendship. I’ve since deleted the post, but it’s still not the same as it was (and may never again be). If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself not to write that blog. It’s one thing I wish everyday that I could go back and undo.

But enough of that. I got over it. I saw a very strange but creative halftime show by the Beech High School marching band. Apparently, it was themed around the M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs, but all I saw were little green men and women scurrying around a fake cornfield and playing eerie movie music. Kudos for creativity, but not so much for making sense.

I made a new friend (Rachel), had some very salty Powerade, witnessed a great game, and hung out with some amazing people called the Green Hills Community Group.

IMG_1269

It’s funny how at times I remembered exactly how I felt as a 17-year old during my high school homecoming game. All the uncertainty, fear, doubts, insecurities, and joys came rushing back. But I saw it all through (hopefully) wiser 41-year old eyes.

I hope to do the high school homecoming game thing again, but hopefully not after putting in 40 hours of work in 4 days and hopefully more rested.

God is just as good to me at 41 as He was when I was 17. It’s nice to know some things never change. Even when I’m 64, that same God will be with me and for me and love me just the same He did when I was in high school and like He does now.

The Best Blog Ever

I had an idea for the best blog ever that would totally revolutionize the blogging universe and bring me instant fame and fortune. But I was in the car when the epiphany hit and had no way of writing it down so alas, it was lost.

I do have ideas from time to time that I miss. I think at the time, “I should probably write that one down.” But then I think, “Naaah, I will remember THIS one, unlike the fifty or so others that slipped my mind. This time will be different.”

Somewhere in the back of me ol’ noggin is a storehouse full of forgotten ideas and concepts for great books and lyrics to songs. I think it’s the same place where the missing socks go to die.

Maybe one day I will get completely organized and learn to take some kind of notebook or recording device to capture all of these ingenious ideas. Then again, half of them won’t seem so very ingenious after 24 hours. Oh well.

In my opinion, the best blog ever is the one that’s good enough that gets written down, rather the one that is 100% perfect that stays in my head. If you wait until everything is perfect to do anything, you will get nothing done. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

God didn’t call you and me to be perfect, but faithful. He can take “good enough” and use it to bless people. He can take imperfect people to pour His perfect love through to those who need it most.